Last of the Summer Wine has been shown on British television channels 483 times in the first 90 days of this year, according to new figures.
Although the Yorkshire-based sitcom had 31 series over 37 years, only 295 episodes were made. Viewers with the full range of terrestrial and digital stations are never more than a few hours away from the show, which was cancelled by the BBC in 2010.
And although dozens of the most popular sitcoms are repeated several times a day, none even come close to Last of the Summer Wine, said the British Comedy Guide website.
While that may make some moan about the number of repeats on TV, it also suggests the gentle comedy about three old friends who never grow up is simply endearingly popular.
The British Comedy Guide monitored every showing of every sitcom and panel show on every channel available to UK viewers from the start of the year until 1 April for its site, www.comedy.co.uk.
Some channels, such as Dave, can often devote hours to showing every episode in a series of its favourite programmes, hence the phenomenal figures.
While Last of the Summer Wine was broadcast 483 times, the second most-shown programme was My Family, starring Robert Lindsay, got just 233 outings in the same period.
This was followed by 179 chances to see Stephen Fry’s QI and 161 for the ever-popular Only Fools and Horses, followed by the children’s comedy series My Parents Are Aliens.
The shows in the top ten for the quarter may not be the same when a whole year of broadcasts is taken into account at the end of 2013, said the British Comedy Guide.
This is because some are not repeated on channels such as Dave while a new series is being shown on a major terrestrial channel – like showing old QI shows while the newest is on.
And others are shown repeatedly in a short season, rather than continuously throughout the whole year.
The rest of the top ten is made up of The Good Life, Have I Got News For You, As Time Goes By, The Upper Hand and ’Allo ’Allo.
A spokesman for the British Comedy Guide said: “This study has only been running for three months, but already it’s becoming clear that some shows are enduringly popular with viewers and that audiences don’t mind watching shows again…even if, like Have I Got News For You, they’re not as topical as when first broadcast.”
The spokesman added: “The fact that Last Of The Summer Wine is still being repeated as often as the statistics show, suggests the BBC perhaps shouldn’t have closed production down in 2010.”